I love the way that, in Ireland, we all tend to make the most of the fine weather in case it won’t last. This appreciation for something while we have it is wonderful, but there’s still no need to rush or hurry. June has been such a restorative month for many of us and now, at Midsummer, we remain filled with the hope of many more, wonderful, expansive days still in front of us. Can you take a few minutes to slow down and consider how you are spending your summer days. Are you feeling busy or at ease? You might even notice how it feels in your body as you say the word ‘busy’ as opposed to the word ‘ease’.
Being busy holds different meanings for people because we all look at life through various lenses. Sometimes, it is true, we are busy and short of time, especially when combining work with parenting or caring for someone in our family. But conversely, for some of us, it can feel intolerable to stop because we can still think, feel, and act busy, even though we need not be. We may have built up a strong habit of rushing through life and this can take a while to realise, and then intentional, conscious effort to undo. Mindfulness and compassion skills can help us to notice the pace at which we are living our lives, help us to slow things down and make the most of any time we have, even if it’s only a few moments here and there. Being at peace with ourselves and freeing up our minds can create more time, and by slowing our pace we can still get the same amount done.
Busying our days can be fuelled by an underlying anxiety or even fear of what might arise if we were to pause, for example, feelings like tiredness or upset, but still, there is great power in learning to take a pause. Sometimes keeping busy can cover over our emotional states. In our pause, we can choose self-compassion, speak kindly to ourselves, and learn to go easy on ourselves. Listen to the words of ‘Let yourself rest’ by author and poet, Jeff Foster. “Time does not always need to be filled. You are enough, simply in your being”. You are enough. You don’t need to jam pack every day, rather leave a little room in that schedule to experience the feeling of sheer awe that nature can evoke when we spend time noticing.
Plus, we need some spare time in case something unexpected arises or simply to pace ourselves so we can fully enjoy the simple pleasures of Summer, like the joy of hearing bees buzzing in the garden, the birdsong, listening to the sound of the light rain outside or experiencing the strong, earthy aromas in the air after rain, or the smell of wild roses. It is a time of high energy and lovely long days so rest is also essential, the choice now though is that you can rest outside on grass or on a sandy beach, a chair in the garden or inside with all the windows open, sensing into these summer evenings and the abundance of life living all around us. As I look up from typing, I am momentarily distracted by what I think is a fledgling blackbird in my garden, quite large but still fluffy and unsure. How lucky and humbled I am to see this new little bird so close up. I glance away and it’s taken flight.
Restoring and replenishing our own inner reserves and goodness is vital so that we have plenty to go around. I am consciously taking some time to do just that over the next couple of months, but continue my weekly drop-in classes and my work with family carers through the lens of mindfulness. I am acutely aware of how short of time and depleted people can feel when the priority of care is often, necessarily so, given to someone more vulnerable, whether that is a parent, child, spouse or partner. In the Autumn, for the third year, in conjunction with CECAS and supported by REACH, I will be running two free mindfulness programmes, called re-connect and re-engage, one developed for family carers and the other for people who may be going through a difficult stage in life and struggling to rest or relax, perhaps overthinking issues and in need of some support. Please keep an eye on my Facebook page mindhaven or get in touch, because summer workshops and events will pop up from time to time. In the meantime, a wish for these summer months from the wonderful meditation practice of loving kindness, “may we all live with ease”.
Drop-in compassion-based mindfulness sessions at CECAS.ie Myross Wood (now in the old chapel), Leap on Tuesday mornings through-out July from 10am-11am. €10. All welcome to join this wonderful community of practice. For more information: www.mindhaven.ie Phone: 087 2700572 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook:susanoreganmindfulness